The staff of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab) at JPPM are huge fans of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and the new Outlander television series on Starz has inspired us. Outlander features a Scotland bristling under English political control in the 1740s. By that time, Maryland had been an English colony for 100 years, and within a few decades, Maryland would also struggle to overthrow English rule. Scotland and Maryland represented economic assets to England, and laws and taxation ensured that these regions relied on English goods. Colonial artifacts found by archaeologists in Maryland are therefore not so different than ones you might find in 1740s Scotland.

The MAC Lab is a State-owned facility serving as the primary repository for collections excavated in Maryland. Artifacts come to the MAC Lab from every part of the state, and many of the most impressive assemblages date to the 18th century. For this traveling exhibit, we have taken some of our favorite finds from colonial Maryland out of storage to show how they compare to the 18th-century Scotland depicted in Starz’s Outlander. The display features horse tack, drinking glasses, firearms, clothing fasteners, wig hair curlers, and rare organic survivals such as 18th-century corks and leather. Period dramas often need to take creative license with sets and costumes in order to facilitate the filming process, and while these compromises can frustrate history buffs looking for a 100% realistic depiction of the past, Maryland’s artifacts prove that much of the material in Outlander is spot-on. Those of us who immerse ourselves in the past for a living have good reason to celebrate this series as we study and care for the tangible remains of Maryland’s colonial heritage.


~ Sara Rivers Cofield and Caitlin Shaffer

Links

Image that links you to the Outlanders online exhibit.

 

 

Image of front cover for the Artifacts of Outlander catalog which will open a pdf of catalog when clicked.

Click on image to explore the
Artifacts of Outlander Online Exhibit,
      Click to download the exhibit catalog
for details about the artifacts.

Exhibit Schedule

Year Month(s) Location
2016 January - February Historic London Town, Edgewater
2016 March Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville
2016 April - August Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
2017 Dec. 2016 - January 2017 C. Burr Artz Public Library - Frederick
2017 Mar. - April 2017 Cecil County Library - Elkton
2017 May – June 2017 Belair Mansion/City of Bowie Museums
2017 October – November 2017 Harford County Public Libraries, Belcamp MD

Efforts are underway to share this exhibit with more locations in the Mid-Atlantic and to create an online exhibit that can be accessed by those outside of our region. If you support this work and would like to see it travel to additional venues, please consider becoming a member of the Friends of JPPM.

If you are a library or museum in the Mid-Atlantic region that is interested in renting the “Artifacts of Outlander” traveling exhibit, please contact the Director of the MAC Lab, Patricia Samford, at patricia.samford@maryland.gov or 410-586-8551 for rental pricing on this exhibit..

For artifact-related questions, please contact Sara Rivers Cofield at sara.rivers-cofield@maryland.gov or 410-586-8589.

The Outlander images are used by permission from Starz.

Copyright © 2015 by
Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab